Wednesday, December 31, 2008
For Christmas, Ann's friend, Anne, gave me a single skein of lovely thick wool that came with a hat pattern. You know that kind of yarn, it's super thick and gorgeous, and the 65 yds. of it is enough to make a hat. (It's a lovely gray and natural with a slight green tinge to it. I really like it.) Actually it came with two patterns. I immediately cast on the cabled one because I feel like making cables is a real magic trick. I knit like the wind and by the end of Christmas day was 4 stitches from the end of the last row when I realized that I didn't have enough yarn. Drat. I frogged it and balled it up. Yesterday I decided to tackle the non-cabled pattern figuring, correctly it turns out, that I'd use less yarn. Ta-da! In the first picture you see Durwood wearing it. In the second, is the hat and how much yarn I had left. In the third, you see the hat in it's final form with the tassel I made from that little handful of yarn. There's barely a molecule of it wasted. Thanks, Anne.
December 30--A random light. A random light. A random light? What does that mean? Random random Can light be random? Random light random light Random light. Jubal drove down County Road 72 late one midsummer night. The light of random houses sprinkled over the rolling hills and peering at him through thickets of young trees were the only sign that he wasn't the last person alive on the planet. He liked the narrow asphalt road with its sinuous curves and stomach-swooping little rises much better than the cold gray concrete of the state highway a mile or so to the north. Claire hated this old road. She said it was dangerous and too lonely, but that was what Jubal liked about it. He craved the solitude of the road with its friendly turns and the tangled brush just off the shoulder that provided cover for wild turkeys in the fall, whitetail deer all year round, and ring-neck pheasants in summer. He liked seeing the raccoons with their human-like hands perched waiting to cross after he passed and the heedless lumbering porcupines that took their old sweet time making him wait. It was an independent sort of road, maybe that was why he liked it so much.
There, it was gratifying to start out so frustrated and end up with a rather lyrical hymn to driving country roads. This pleases me immensely.
Stay safe if you're out tonight. Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
December 29--These are the delicacies of a ruined evening. Thinking back Susan could pinpoint when the evening began to go bad. She had ordered a dirty martini. Darren had looked at her as if she had asked for a blood chaser. "A dirty martini?" "Yes," Susan said, "one with a bit of olive juice in it. The olive juice makes it cloudy, not the clear of a regular martini, so they say it's dirty." She assumed that her explanation had cleared things up but she heard him mutter something about her being "too fancy for beer" as he tipped his bottle of MGD to take a sip.
That's it, kids. Have a great day.
Monday, December 29, 2008
December 28--If I tell you the truth...
Truth telling is dangerous.
I hide behind lies
white lies, it's true,
but lies nevertheless.
I don't remember when
I started to live in the shadow
but that is where I live now.
I'm comfortable here
clothed in my suit
snug in the thorns of their embrace.
Truth shines dangerous light
glaring into corners,
It sears my skin
and blisters my lips.
Truth hurts us all.
I'll stay here in my bed
That's all a lie, but I like the way it worked out. I'm mostly a truth-teller because I'm not smart enough to lie. You?
Sunday, December 28, 2008
And it's sunny today. Ahh, I love sunny days. Yesterday's fog was awful, wasn't it?
December 27--Write about a time someone told you a secret. The seal of the confessional. That was always the hardest burden for Father Loefler to bear. For all the years of his priesthood he felt the weight of the sins heaped upon him every Saturday when he heard confessions. Not that many priests call the sacrament Confession anymore, most parishes have Reconciliation, a silly pretense that consisted of a church filled with penitents and a priest giving blanket absolution from the altar. How was he supposed to judge contrition or give counsel? How could he grant absolution willy nilly and keep his own conscience quiet? He found that as the years went by he felt the need to develop a way to offload the heaviest sins, the darkest secrets that floated through the screen that separated the priest from the confessing. At times he was surprised that he didn't drop with their weight.
Jenny and Jennifer, I know you both have in-home internet access, so where are you? I'm lonely over here. I feel like I'm hollering down a well.
Some of her "quality" time with Dad was spent in what she called the "meatball sweatshop" helping him prepare Italian Wedding Soup as our contribution to the family's Souptastic Christmas Feast. Pictured is tray 1 of 3 of itty-bitty meatballs. Durwood says he likes to get 3 or 4 meatballs in every bite. I say I'd make as many meatballs as there are servings and be done with it! Just one giant meatball per bowl. Tom's Turkey Booyah (traditional NE Wisconsin poultry and veggie soup--Belgian, maybe?) and Beer Cheese Soup were good, but we thought Durwood's Italian Wedding Soup was the best.
My knitting moved along nicely this week even with the distraction of gift finishing and gift wrapping and gift giving and gift opening (with no gift returning). I finally (it only took 10 months of not-intensive knitting) finished sock #1 of my first pair of socks using real skinny sock yarn and US3s. You can see I did cast on sock #2. I should have the pair to wear next fall if my timetable remains constant. DD is a great sock-knitting motivator, she zooms along using US2s and the thinnest of yarn, all the while wearing hand knit socks from her arsenal of completed pairs.
In the face of her sockitude I decided to give knitting two at once on 2 circs another try. She and I sat down together and talked our way through the instructions and pictures in this book. I'm nearing the 2" mark on the cuff which is zooming along for me. I'll keep going on these; I'm determined.
I worked on the second of four sections of the sari silk purse for my DIL. I hope to finish it and cast on #3 by bedtime.
And finally, you have to see the coolest Christmas present I got from DD. She borrowed a knitting machine and knit a piece of fabric 18" X 34" out of undyed light worsted weight yarn. Then she used squirt bottles filled with dye to draw a reef scene on it. My job is to unpick the end and unravel it while knitting it into something else, like a shawl or gloves or whatever. She says it's about 300 yards so I have to find a pattern that uses almost that much or maybe 2 that add up, don't want to waste an inch. So very cool.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
December 26--Write about something sacred. Rhodes sat in the last pew of the darkened church, the flickering red candle in the sacristy leaping in the drafts that wafted through the nave even on the stillest days. Faint blue moonlight shone through the panes of the stained glass windows down both sides of the church and cast shadows that looked impenetrable. He had been sitting there for over an hour drinking in the smell of the votive candles in racks at the side altars, the remnants of the incense used in High Mass and on feast days, and the misery of years of congregations. When he first sat down and settled there each small sound made him jump and look around. He identified the far-off closing of a door and the slow steps of a man coming nearer. As the steps got closer he heard the murmur of a voice in prayer, he thought, and praying in Latin since he couldn't understand the words. Once he would have understood. He had been an altar boy in the days of the Latin Mass. He had dressed in a black cassock, just like the priest's, with a snow white surplice over the top. He said the responses confidently and rang the bells at the right time. So caught up was he in the memory that he was startled to realize that the priest had entered the church and come down the aisle, stopping a few pews away. He had the sense that the black-robed man in the Roman collar had spoken, asked a question. Rhodes looked up at the gray-haired man looking at him out of warm brown eyes and his hand raised on its own to make the Sign of the Cross. Without realizing it, he began to speak, " Bless me, Father, for I have sinned..."
Ooh, I wonder what he's doing there.
Stay safe on this foggy day. I was going to quote Robert Frost but this is no fog that moves on "little cat feet" this is Bigfoot fog.
Friday, December 26, 2008
December 24--Write about a fire. The logs were stacked precisely like Lincoln Logs. They made a square chimney. She had combed the woods surrounding the stacked limestone circle of the council ring to find dry twigs and grasses to use for kindling. She had carried an old galvanzied watering can, minus its sprinkler head, down from the cottages built in the clearing. The can was heavy with water and it sloshed a bit leaving a wet mark on her old jeans. A couple trips to the shelter halfway up the trail and she had a nice pile of split firewood off to the side and a nice armload of smaller pieces to feed the fire after the kindling caught. She worked alone and in silence. It had been an eventful morning in her writing class and she decided after lunch to spend the afternoon outside in the crisp autumn sunshine. The wind in the trees and the murmur of the waves as they collapsed on the rocks at the base of the bluff soothes her troubled mind and the silent work of making the fire ready for that evening's bonfire assured her that even if the words wouldn't come, the beauty of this place could heal most of the hurts of her everyday life.
December 25--We ate Chinese. In my family take-out Chinese food was like medicine. If you borught home a note from your teacher Mom trusted that an egg roll and a cardboard carton of roast pork fried rice would set things right. A bad report card or failing a test called for sterner medicine--crab rangoons and egg foo yung would be prescribed. For really bad things, like breaking a window in Mrs. Stein-across-the-street's living room with a basebass or giving one of your bratty little twin brothers a black eye, a trip to the Mandarin Garden with its bright pagoda paintings and red chrome and formica booths was the remedy. Convalescing from a cold? Egg drop soup and a handfull of fortune cookies washed down by over-fizzy Fanta orange soda was just the thing to make you feel better. I learned from an early age that there was very little in life that couldn't be cured by a few cartons of stir fried meat and veggies and a bit of sticky rice.
Neither are great literature, but I'm just happy, as always, that I wrote. Hope everyone's Christmas was merry and bright. If not, have a nice sulk.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
December 23--Write about something you want but cannot have. I want to be taller. Just an inch or maybe two. It's not asking a lot. If I were two inches taller I could reach things on the top shelves of the cupboards without needing a char to stand on. But if I were suddenly taller all of my jeans would be too short and I just can't afford to replace them right now. No one would look me in the eye, they'd be watching my chin and certain person of the male persuasion would be staring at my belly button if you know what I mean. It's probably too late to grow two inches, after all I am over fifty so maybe I should just put in my order early for my next go-round.
That's it. That's a brilliant as I could be last night. Hope you're all having a great week.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Isn't he cute? And he looks so happy. It took forever to make his mouth so he didn't look like he'd had a few too many egg nogs at the Elves' Christmas party. I really like how he turned out. I wasn't sure I'd like an elf not made in red and green but both of the ones I made this week are terrific.
And remember I took a picture on Dec. 9 of the 6" of snow we got? That day I swept the snow off the grill. Here's a picture of the grill today. See how much snow we're having to deal with? A lot. Too much if you ask me. We've gotten more than half our normal winter's worth this month and there's still a week left. They're saying 2-4" more tomorrow and more on the weekend. Aargh!
December 22--It's Sunday morning. The phone rings. The sunlight had barely begun to peek around the edges of the curtains that Sunday when the phone rang. Kay felt a cold clutch in the pit of her stomach. She sat up straight in bed and reached for the aqua princess phone on her bedside table. "Hello?" There was no answering voice asking for help or drunk dialing or apologizing for a wrong number, just dead air. "Hello?" she said again a little louder, a little firmer. Still no sound, not even breathing. As she reached to hand up she thought she heard something and pressed the receiver back to her ear. "Kay," breathed an unfamiliar voice, "Kay. Kay." There was a long exhale on the last "Kay" and then the sound of the phone falling onto something wooden. Then nothing. The cold in her stomach spread outward to her limbs as she stared at the phone in her hand as if it had sprung up and bitten her.
Monday, December 22, 2008
December 21--Write about a scar. It was just a thin white line that traced a meandering path up Ellen's arm but it had a big story to tell. Most of the time it was nearly invisible, pale and narrow, its pink color nearly matching her alabaster skin. In the summer the story changed. Ellen drew too much attention to the fact that something was hidden if she wore long sleeves but even though she barely tanned and wore the strongest SPF sunscreen, the scar was much more visible. It stayed pale pink as her skin turned pale gold and the margins stayed white. Strangers stared when they saw it, most of them too polite to ask about it. She told inquisitive children that she got it running with a pair of scissors. But the real cause haunted her dreams. The thin silver blade flashing in the firelight, slashing out of the silent darkness was never far from her thoughts.
Three more days! Everybody ready? I think I am, well, except for making a batch of spritz cookies. That'll get done tomorrow.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
December 20--Write what you didn't say. I had my teeth clenched so tightly I was sure they would explode. The longer I worked for, well, them the harder it was to keep my opinions to myself. They could learn so much from me, like how not to chase customers away and what Customer Service really means. I could tell them the right way to treat the instructors, how they are the people the students admire and rely on for gear purchasing advice. I would advise them on paying their bills on time and how to spend their purchasing money. I should be in charge of most businesses, actually. I'd have them straightened out in no time. Governments too. Those people could really use a dose of my brand of common sense. I'd cut out all the pork and streamline bureaucracy from the local level all the way to the highest in the land. Religions would benefit too. In fact, why doesn't everyone just put me in charge? In six months I'd have the whole planet running much smoother.
Megalomania, anyone? Try not to blow away with the drifting snow.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I've been crocheting elf parts the last few days. Haven't gotten one completed but here's what I've got done. I realized last night that I need to have the non-Pogo elf done on Monday to give to Mr. & Mrs. Boss because they graciously gave me Christmas Eve off so I need to leave their elf at the store when I close on Monday. Crochet like the wind! I'll make it, even if I have to buy another G hook and enlist my daughter to help make limbs.
And I couldn't resist taking a picture of Durwood, or as I like to call him, Wisconsin Skinny the Wii pool shark. He scratches a lot (that's when the cue ball goes in a pocket) and complains a lot but he keeps playing. He's loving the Wii. Most every day he and I have a 3-game world championship bowling tournament. Usually I lose but every once in a while (like yesterday) I win.
December 19--You are in a church. Sera stood in the aisle of the biggest church in Leesville. Her brother Michael was getting married in the church tomorrow afternoon and the whole wedding party was there for the rehearsal. The minister, a woman, was in her mid-thirties and good looking in a religious sort of way. Pastor Angela had the situation well in hand despite the barely controlled near hysteria of Cherry, the bride's mother. The bride herself, whose name was Grace, stood still at the far end of the aisle holding her father's arm and doing none of the fidgeting and dithering of most of the rest of the females in the nave. Spring sunlight streamed through the gem colors of the stained glass and Sera heard Cherry tell the poor beleaguered wedding planner that she wanted it to be "just like that tomorrow." Sera and her mom exchanged raised eyebrow looks and both of them looked at Grace who shrugged and then teased Cherry saying, "Mom, I don't think even you can alter the weather to your taste. Now sit down so we can get this over and go eat. I'm starving." Three of the groomsmen and an usher applauded.
I have to go shovel and snowblow. Have a great weekend. I'll be back tomorrow morning with another little splut of writing.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thanks for the great meeting last night, Bob. Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules made for excellent discussion fodder and I loved the illustrations. His reason for using "said" is the best, most logical, most sensible I've ever heard.
December 18--Write about masks. People wear masks all the time. Sometimes it's makeup or facial hair, other times it's a false attitude that's worn for work or to hide feelings. Write about masks. Write about masks. Write about masks! Masks! What about masks? I feel like all my masks are askew or slipping, maybe damaged or becoming transparent. Maybe they're becoming too heavy or the glue I use to keep them on has worn off. Sometimes I feel as if there are wide cracks in my mask that let my true feelings glare out and sometimes I know that people can see it by the wary look on their face.
Not much happening on the paper last night. Oh well, happy shoveling.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
December 17--Write about a red-haired woman Julia's hair was a lie. It blazed fiery auburn in the sunlight and hinted at submerged passions. Julia was not passionate about anything or anyone. Oh, maybe you could say she was passionate about order. The books in her library had to be in order. It was an ironclad rule. Few of her employees would use the word passionate when talking about Julia, though. Rigid, they might say, or inflexible. Determined might be the choice of someone taught not to speak ill of anyone. Even the most upbeat and positive of them called the red-haired spinster librarian driven. And she was driven. Driven to the exclusion of any arguments or excuses for even one book found out of order. No man had ever been brave or foolhardy enough to attempt to divert Julia's attention away from that order toward more passionate pursuits.
Ann made it home safe and sound yesterday evening. I'm happy about that because now I have someone to knit with in my very own home. I don't have to go out trolling for people to knit with I have one handy all the time--for the next 10 days anyway.
See you tonight!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
December 16--"I walked into the Maverick Bar in Farmington, New Mexico." There was a red neon sign of a cowboy on a bucking horse perched on the roof. Not my usual kind of place. Inside it was black dark and the air was thick with the smell of sweat, stale beer, and even staler cigarette smoke. My eyes slowly adjusted and saw a few beer signs crouched in the window frames as if they were embarrassed to be seen in such a dive. I was embarrassed to be there too, and nervous. Some crying country and western song whined out of the jukebox and a man who looked ten years older than God sat at the bar. "Can I help you?" a woman's voice said. I looked closer and saw a woman, in her middle fifties by the look of her in the dim light, wiping the bar. "I'll have a..." I tried to think of the safest thing to order. "I'll have a bottle of beer, no glass," I said and perched one butt cheek on a torn and taped bar stool. I nearly put my purse on the bar but stopped before the leather hit the surface and slung it over my shoulder. The woman put a cardboard coaster in front of me and set a bottle of Sterling on it. "That'll be three bucks," she said. "And d'you want a napkin to wipe the top with? We rarely get prissy women in here so I'm not sure what's right." Her words brought a wheezy laugh out of the old guy on the end stool that quickly turned into a phlegmy cough. The bartender walked down, poured a shot, and set it on the bar in front of him. She patted his hand then held it while he drank. "Okay now, Ed?" she asked and, when he nodded, she came back my way. I decided I must look like my father.
While I was writing it, I didn't know why the "I" was in there, what she had gone for. It was only after I closed my notebook and turned off the light that the last line came. Despite all my complaining about it I do like this writing thing. See you tomorrow night.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Cool, isn't it? It even has little pink eyes, which means it's a true albino. I hope the rest of the squirrels don't beat it up. We're calling it Alby.
December 15--Write about a red convertible. Vroom, vroom. Derek lay on the celery green shag carpet pretending his ancient Matchbox car, stripped of paint by too many summers spent in one sandbox or another, was a shiny red convertible. He could imagine it clearly--the gleam of paint that rich cherry red with just a hint of blue in it and the eye popping flash of the chrome like expensive braces across the front. He could feel the sweep of wind through his hair as he drove his red convertible down the living room highway, the blue ceiling sky arching overhead and the summer sun of the lamps beating down. The shade of the coffee table brought cool relief as he traversed the shag Serenteti littered with potato chip crumbs and Cheerio trails left by his big and little sisters as they followed their traditional migration patterns from the den to the kitchen and back.
That's it. My first tentative venture back into making sh*t up. Ahhh. Thanks for the reminder, Jenny, about having "writerly activities" to report on Thursday night. (Damn, it's cold outside.)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
How's it going for the rest of you?
...how much I love the colors of reclaimed silk yarn? I remember how beautiful and jewel-like the colors are, how they meld together in a glittering fabric, but between projects I forget how the yarn twists back on itself like a hyperactive snake making big snarls that I have to untangle.
I am released from Christmas gift knitting and have taken up knitting a purse for my DIL. This one's for you, Abby. I'm not promising when but it'll be before winter ends. Cross my heart.
Maybe I'll knit some Sudoku squares or even finish that sock I cast on last April and never finished. There is much in the stash to be magicked into life.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Remember late last month I knitted a couple caps for Connor who has a virulent form of brain cancer? In three short weeks knitters/crocheters on Ravelry made 145 hats so that each student in Connor's school got a hat. They were distributed last Friday. Connor got to choose first. He chose the gray beret I made. I was flabergasted--and burst into tears.
I sometimes feel like I mail my charity knitting off into the void. Here's proof that what I do makes a difference. I am humbled.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Mostly I'm posting because I keep forgetting to post the newest Sharp-shinned hawk pictures Durwood took last Thursday when it was snowing. Aren't they wonderful? He's really lucky.
We woke up today to 6" of the fluffy white stuff. I thought you might enjoy a view of the grill, the Emma's chair, and garden.
I finished another market bag at work yesterday. This is a great project to leave in my work backpack to have when I am underwhelmed by customers. Can you believe that people seem to be spending money on frivolities like rent and food and gas instead of scuba stuff? Me neither.
And finally, if you've got a few pennies left from your holiday gift buying, head over to the Yarn Harlot's post from the past and send your spare change to Doctors Without Borders. We who are so rich in so many ways can really make a difference. Have a happy holiday season no matter how you celebrate it, I'm happy to have you all in my life even if it's only in the blogosphere.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Just a tad. I worked all day on the Phoenix Tears hat to go with the scarf I knitted last week. I don't know why it took all day to finish this hat. I had the 6 row ribbing done when I went to bed last night and there's only 28 rows after that, and it's on US15s. I do know that my hands ache right now. Maybe the 2 or 3 kinds of novelty yarn were too rigid for ease of knitting. I used the Meathead pattern and I made one of those in an afternoon last week. Oh well, it's done and now I can move on to the last half of the last stealth project tomorrow while I'm keeping the world safe from scuba diving. (It's been really customer-less at work with the saggy economy, see? So I'm getting a lot of knitting, crocheting, and web surfing done there.)
Saturday, December 6, 2008
It's snowing. But then it is Wisconsin so I should expect that in December, I suppose. At least it's not a bazillion degrees below zero--yet.
Here's the hat I knitted on Thanksgiving for Mom to give to a friend. It's made with 2 strands of Lamb's Pride Bulky in Prairie Goldenrod on US 15 DPNs in my favorite Meathead Hat pattern. I love this hat!
I wore my Phoenix Tears scarf the last couple of days and realized that none of my current hats match it. Bummer. That means I have to make one. Oh look, I cast one on last night. Guess what pattern. Meathead? Ooh, you're so smart. I'm carrying 2 strands of Angel Hair, 1 of Squiggles, and 1 of Boa to start so it's thick enough and then I plan to add in the orange Fun Fur about halfway up to give it that plume-y look. Should be quite a hat, but then Mr. Boss did say he thought the scarf looked like "pizza puke." The man has no taste, no whimsy.
Durwood and I have been Wii bowling every day. Fitness, you know. See how focused he is?
The most exciting thing happened at the grocery this morning. I drove into the parking lot, snowflakes falling with enthusiasm, and there was the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile! I hurried in to do my little bit of shopping and raced out to find them setting up for display. I was first in line to see it. I got a Weiner Whistle.
It. Glows. In. The. Dark.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
A chocolate cake to celebrate sounds like a wonderful idea!
I am really looking forward to January 1st so I can start blogging with the Writer's Book of Days! Who knows...maybe something good will come out of the prompts.
See you all Thursday night!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Are you going to print out your manuscript and bring it to writer's on Thursday to show off? I think I might, just to brag over that nice big pile of paper. So, should I bake a chocolate cake for us? I made one the other day that is so good I can barely keep from eating it all in one day. I'd be happy to whip up another one (so I'll get to eat some more of it) in the interest of shared celebration. What do you say?
What an amazing month this has been. I am so glad that we embarked on this challenge together.
Just think....only we get to start this madness again in 11 months; but for now I am just glad it is over and I can go back to writing on a variety of subjects and enjoying a good book or two.
We will definitely have to celebrate this Thursday night.